AFF Cup: Vietnam target positive result against the Philippines

Sunday, 2018-12-02 14:18:47
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Park Hang-seo and his Vietnam players are determined to achieve a positive result at the Philippines.
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NDO – Vietnam will meet the Philippines in their 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final first leg at Bacolod’s Panaad Stadium (Philippines) later today (Dec. 2). Park Hang-seo’s side are determinedly looking towards a positive away result to seize the advantage when heading into the return leg at Hanoi’s My Dinh National Stadium in four days.

Vietnam and the Philippines currently possess an equal head-to-head record, having won two and lost two in their last four AFF Cup meetings. At the moment, it remains difficult to assess the possibility of advancing or to compare the capabilities of each team. So far in the AFF Cup, the Philippines’ power has continued to come from naturalised players, which remains to be true in this year’s tournament, as 19 of the 23 Philippine players were born abroad, with many of them currently playing for professional clubs in Europe and a number of advanced football powerhouses.

Coach Sven Goran-Eriksson will only have 18 players left for their semi-final clash against Vietnam tonight, as five have been forced to return to play for their clubs, including Neil Etheridge of Premier League club Cardiff City F.C, John-Patrick Strauss (playing in Germany), Daisuke Sato (playing in Romania), Stephan Palla (playing in Austria), and injured midfielder, Woodland. Nonetheless, as claimed by Eriksson and assessed by experts, the Philippines still remain full of danger to any opponents.

Compared to Vietnam’s unbeaten run with a complete clean sheet in the group stage, the Philippines were less impressive as they conceded three times, which, however, does not tell so much about their real strength. Two of those goals were conceded against the weakest team of the tournament, Timor Leste, after Eriksson’s side were 3-0 in front. But when facing heavyweights Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, they conceded just one. A strong defensive lineup helped the Philippines to overcome their opponents and book a semi-final place, but without having to show-off their full strength. In addition to their resilient defence, the Philippines can also deploy attacks when needed to put strong pressure on the opposite side. The playing style of Eriksson’s side is close to modern European football, especially English football, which is simple but highlights efficiency.

It can be said that the Philippines are a real challenge to measure the power of Park Hang-seo and his Vietnamese team. However, Vietnam have clearly shown their determination to achieve a positive result away. Fox Sport Asia has pointed out this important factor by stating that Vietnam possess a golden generation with a combination of the youthful power of the U23 players and experience of veteran players. Following the outstanding achievements recently gained in the continental arena, more than ever the “Yellow Stars” are extremely longing for a victory to cruise into the final match, especially as they are led by such an experienced and talented tactician as Park Hang-seo.

Vietnamese players during a training session at Bacolod's Panaad Stadium in the Philippines on Dec. 1. (Photo: zing.vn)

Even the Swedish trainer Eriksson had to admit that he was very impressed by the collective and defensive power of Park’s side. He said that “Vietnam have many quality players who handle the ball very fast and actively engage in reclaiming the lost ball. This is a difficult problem to which we have to seek a solution.”

Despite Park Hang-seo seeming to be quiet, the media, to some extend, have discovered that the RoK tactician and his players are focusing on measures to prevent high balls. Such caution is not excessive as the Philippines will undoubtedly take advantage of their superior physique to implement the tactics of long passes and headers or deploy long balls to launch attacks into the penalty area. This is also the statement made by Park in the press briefing ahead of the semi-final, as saying that Vietnam will face numerous difficulties against the Philippines. In order to limit this playing style, the “Yellow Stars” will have to press rapidly aiming to block the opposite forwards, while seeking ways to control the midfield and use short-ball combinations with few touches to penetrate into the Philippines box. During their pre-match training lessons, Park also asked his players to practice free-kick to prepare for measures to approach the Philippines goal in an effective manner.

Striving to attain a positive result at Bacolod’s Panaad Stadium may be a modest objective, but it is realistic and quite within the reach of Park’s side to seize the advantage heading into the semi-final return leg at Hanoi’s My Dinh National Stadium this Dec. 6.